By Godwin Nathaniel
Kano Pillars and Lobi Stars kicked off action on Day two of the Presidential Pre-Season Cup 2021 at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja with expectations from fans for a football spectacle.
Coach Ibrahim Musa retained a majority of his players from the first game with captain Ali, Yusuf Maigoro, Umar Hassan, Joshua Enaholo, Ezekiel Tamara and Shehu Hassan all retaining their places.
Lord Eddy Dombraye called on Nazim Amokachi, Douglas Achiv and Barnabas Imenger Jr. in a change from their first game.
The first half ended with both sides struggling to control the pace of the game. Rabiu Ali and Ezekiel Tamara met stiff opposition from Douglas Achiv and Michael Okolo who pressed up and restricted passing lanes from the middle for the Sai Masu Gida boys.
Nazim Amokachi switched flanks and operated from the right where he found room to put in a couple balls into the box. His penalty plea in the 40th minute was turned down by the referee who saw nothing wrong in a tackle from Tamara Ezekiel. In a half of very few opportunities, Kano Pillars were the happier of both teams, as they were lucky not to have gone down in the first period.
The second half started brightly for Kano Pillars and it took only two minutes before they took the lead. A fine moment of play saw sleek passes from the left flank. The ball found Rabiu Ali and he broke the lines to find Maigoro, who finished with a placed ball after ghosting his marker.
Lord Dombraye reacted from the bench introducing Ifeanyi Ogbe and Austin Ogunye in place of Nazim Amokachi and Adams Olamilikan in the 57th minute.
In the 67th minute, Lobi Stars won a corner kick that was swung in by Gabriel Wassa. It landed on a Lobi head and for a moment, the Pillars went to bed, allowing new entrant Austin Ogunye to head home.
Ibrahim Musa sent in ex Heartland man Kabiru Sanusi to brighten his team’s attack after a torrid afternoon for Aniekeme Okon.
With eight minutes of regulation time left, Pillars found space in the final third and a pass from Tamara Ezekiel located Umar Shehu and the forward slotted the ball under Nwanbali Stanley.
The game saw a frenetic end to it, but Kano Pillars would hold on for a second win, going to the last matchday.
Pillars will be up against Akwa United while Lobi Stars will not be in the mood welcome Sunshine Stars in a battle for whose star shines brightest.